Of the seven major oil and gas EISs now in the works in Wyoming, none have gotten to the “draft” stage. Once a draft is issued, stakeholders can better predict when the process might be completed. But in the early stages of the process, Ulrich said the scope and detail of the analysis seems to have greatly expanded.
“More and more is analyzed under the umbrella of an EIS,” said Ulrich, adding that the analysis includes more air pollutants than before, and more animal species.
Having led the Rockies' natural gas boom during the past decade, Wyoming policymakers get extremely nervous when rigs are busy drilling outside the Cowboy State.
“Some would say it’s not a big deal if we don’t develop our resources now because they’ll still be there for later,” said committee chairman Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton. “The problem is ... once that exodus occurs it’s so hard to get them back.”
Currently, there are some 21,000 natural gas wells in the federal permitting analysis stage in Wyoming, and most of the EISs have been delayed for months — some even for years. Ulrich testified that each year one of these EISs is delayed, it defers about $157 million in tax revenue to the state.